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#3: Symbolic Violence and Language 15/11/18

Thursday 15 November | 5 - 6.30pm | LHRI | All welcome For our third session of the year, we will be focusing on Butler’s analyses of hate speech, censorship, and ‘obscenity’ in the introduction to Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (1997).
Excitable Speech continues Butler’s investigation of subject categories in the context of language and rhetoric. She returns to speech act theories, this time developing questions related to hate speech, injurious name-calling (such as racial slurs or epithets), pornography, rap lyrics, and gay self-expression in the US military – all these topics receive an introductory gloss in this week’s material. Central to her thesis is the rhetorical elision between physical and linguistic injury. Can words wound? How are bodies implicated in, or interpellated by, verbal pain or injury, such as name-calling or legal legislation? Her introduction, and the study as a whole, demonstrates an anxiety about the limits of resignification. Butler questi…